Saturday, September 04, 2010

The Apprentice

After having homered for the first time in his Major League career in the top of the 3rd inning and doubled to left center scoring Justin Maxwell in the top of the 6th, Danny Espinosa had been the story to this point last night at PNC Park for Our Washington Nationals. In just two games played, the young man now wearing jersey number 18 had flashed all his promise: power, speed, the ability to hit from both sides of the plate--and by the time this evening was complete--his fielding prowess--when Danny Espinosa pivoted around second base turning two in the bottom of the 8th.

Rarely do you see a rookie player hold their ground as The Long Beach State product did while The Pittsburgh Pirates Ronny Cedeno tried to take him out on a ground ball hit by Delwyn Young. Ryan Zimmerman fielded the ball, quickly threw across his body to the awaiting Espinosa at the bag. Seeing Cedeno sliding in hard and right on top of him, Danny caught the baseball in his glove, STEPPED BACK off the bag, and as the Pittsburgh shortstop whipped his legs under Espinosa's, Washington's new 2nd baseman sidearmed whipped the baseball over Ronny's head--and perfectly on to Adam Dunn at 1st base to complete the double play.

That was a veteran play from an apprentice that most watching will not recall from last night's affair.

But what every Major League team will probably remember is how The Pittsburgh Pirates pitched to Danny Espinosa in the top of the 8th inning at PNC Park with the game on the line. Having been down all evening thanks to Livan Hernandez being hit hard and removed before the 5th inning was complete (and allowing eight earned runs)--Espinosa now stood in the left handed batters box with the chance to be the hero again as Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage stepped out of the dugout to talk with his reliever Chris Resop.

The score was 8-5 Buccos. Adam Dunn and Willie Harris had both walked with two outs leading to this moment and Searage wanted to tell his hard throwing righthander how to pitch to Danny. Espinosa's homer in the 3rd, batting righthanded, came on a changup thrown by Zack Duke. His RBI double, batting lefthanded, on a down and away fastball in the 6th. Resop was instructed to throw Espinosa nothing but fastballs--high, elevated heat. And that's exactly what Pittsburgh threw him. Nothing but the hard stuff and nothing Danny could handle in this one particular at-bat.

Danny Espinosa striking out swinging in the top of the 8th inning. Washington's last chance to get back into this game--over.

The apprentice had momentarily failed.

Baseball is a learning experience. Last evening, The Pittsburgh Pirates gathered information on Danny Espinosa at PNC Park, while Washington's fans picked up a significant amount too. What everyone came to understand is that Espinosa is a exciting young player, with solid tools both in the field and at the plate. Everyone also confirming during that 8th inning strikeout, he's also just a rookie, still assimilating the game and getting his feet wet.

No question about it. The Apprentice invigorated Our Washington Nationals lineup last night in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, he just couldn't do it all.

One day soon, he will.

Final Score from PNC Park where a beginner was the best thing out on the field last evening: The Pittsburgh Pirates 8 and Our Washington Nationals 5. Loss number 78 was just another defeat between two teams well out of the playoff hunt in a long season coming to a close. A few days from now--it will all be forgotten. At least everything except for Danny Espinosa's performance. In two short games, The Apprentice is putting on a display of baseball much needed in a D.C. uniform. He's providing an exciting brand of baseball, that once honed, could fill a missing void from Washington's roster. Another middle infielder with speed, that can pick the ball with his glove and sock the baseball out of the park with his bat.

That's something to look forward to.

Danny Espinosa only needs the time to grow--in order to get there.

Game Notes & Highlights

Sohna and I have been in Pittsburgh since Thursday, taking in the sights and meeting up with some friends here. PNC Park is one of our favorite venues in Baseball. Just a great ballpark and we love coming back here each and every season Our Washington Nationals play in Western Pennsylvania. There will be more on our trip later on Nats320, but right now--we are enjoying our time here in Pittsburgh.

Our Retro Washington Senators Jerseys were a big hit at PNC Park. Baseball fans love nostalgia and Pittsburgh fans probably long for their past more than many after 18 straight losing seasons. Throughout the night Bucco fans continually stopped us to ask about our "Senators" script uniform tops and where they came from.

The Racing Presidents are here in Pittsburgh to take on the Pirate Pirogues. In a relay race last night, Teddy was scared to finish when the one of the Pirogues threatened to knock him down. A possible replay of a stunt last year at PNC Park. To say the least, Teddy stopped running and The Rushmores lost the race.

And finally, for some reason at PNC Park, the scoreboard uses all the old logos of Our Washington Nationals. The Curly "W" is never used, but the old block "Washington", "DC" are displayed on the in-game summaries and when Washington players come to the plate to hit. Odd. The Pirates have never changed Washington's logos in the three years we've been coming here.

All Photos Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved


Edward J. Cunningham said...

BTW, are you and TAQ wearing home or road Senators jerseys? It would make sense if they were road jerseys (like the one I see for sale in the Nats gift shop) but I'd love to see--maybe even buy--a home jersey.

Also, if the Nats home jerseys are going to change, I would not be opposed to script "Nationals" that imitates the style of "Senators" on your jersey, although putting the "curly W" over the left breast wouldn't be bad, either.

Edward J. Cunningham said...

And finally, for some reason at PNC Park, the scoreboard uses all the old logos of Our Washington Nationals. The Curly "W" is never used, but the old block "Washington", "DC" are displayed on the in-game summaries and when Washington players come to the plate to hit. Odd. The Pirates have never changed Washington's logos in the three years we've been coming here.

Wouldn't changing the Nats' logos on the Pirates' scoreboard mean spending money?

Anonymous said...

I love going to Pittsburgh too. Best park in the majors & love downtown. Last time I was up I visited the location of the old Forbes Field. Part of the left field wall is preserved with a plaque for the Mazeroski home run, and home plate is inside a building of the University of Pittsburgh.

Screech's Best Friend said...

Eddie Cunningham: Sohna and I are wearing the gray away Senators script jerseys in those pictures from PNC Park. The same ones Majestic made for The Nationals which they wore at Camden Yards earlier this season.

Mitchell & Ness made 1969 Senators Home & Away Senators jerseys with Centennial Patch and Ted Williams Number 9 on the back a few years ago. We have both those as well, but since they are made of flannel, we don't wear them as often.

Screech's Best Friend said...

Andy Z: PNC Park. Clearly one of the best venues in baseball. Hard to beat that ballpark, atmosphere, skyline view and friendliness of pittsburgh fans and guest services staff. Top notch in every way.

We love the place.